So in the final analysis the 2012 Olivier awards ended ‘not with a bang but with a whimper’. The relentless march of the Matildas’ continues apace, more than a match for T-2 in terms of remorselessly crushing all that stand in their way. The Evening Standard Awards pointed towards what was to come but the warnings weren’t heeded and on Sunday, at approximately five o’clock in the afternoon, the Matildas’ laid waste to another awards festival. The destruction, when it came, was all but total.
Nominated in ten categories, the Matildas’ blitzed the competition in seven to break the RSC’s own record that has stood firm for over 30 years; back when Nicholas Nickleby made all bow before him. They took a clean sweep of almost all the major musical catagories, including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best New Musical, Best Director & Best Theatre Choregrapher – the only break in the chain came with the surprising victory of Nigel Harman in Shrek: the Musical. It is thought his victory, as the vertically-challenged Lord Farquaad, only come about as judges mistook his diminutive stature for the infamous fifth Matilda, and awarded him the prize accordingly.
The other musicals kneel before the newly crowned queens of the West End. The big loser of the evening being the box office smash hit Ghost: The Musical. As unappealing as the concept may sound, it has unsurprising and dispiritingly been ‘box-office dynamite’. However not so much of a hit with the judges; going home empty-handed despite nominations in 5 categories.
Two rather more depressing news items is that London Road also managed to lose out in each of its 4 categories. Each time nominated against a Matilda, each time losing out. Crush, Kill, Destroy. The other woeful piece of news is the fact that Les Miserables managed to somehow win the BBC Radio 2 Audience Choice Award. Seriously, how many awards does it need to win? Hasn’t it had enough, haven’t people had enough? We are going to get it rammed down our throats later in the year, as Oscar-magnet Tom Hooper and hotel-destroying-magnate Russell Crowe have been handed the reigns to put it into every multiplex in the country. Can we not have a break, please?
The Open Air Theatre’s production of Crazy for You continuing its late-blossoming West End success story, managing to snag two awards in just three nominations and taking home for hotly contested Best Musical Revival – fending off stiff competition from Singing in the Rain, South Pacific and the Wizard of Oz.
In the non-musicals (or plays, as some like to style them) it was a much closer fight. With no overall winner, Frankenstein and Anna Christie both walked away with two, whilst Collaborators and Roadkill ended up with one apiece. In the battle of the celebs, Jude Law lost out again (following the Evening Standard Awards) to the Jonny & Benny show in Frankenstein. If this seemed strange, what seems almost perverse is that Frankenstein picked up Best Lighting Design but Underworld’s magnificent pulsating score failed to win Best Sound Design and Mark Tildesley failed to even get a nomination for his epic set that made full use of the Olivier’s vast open spaces.
Ruth Wilson picked up a richly deserved Best Actress gong for Anna Christie, in doing so she fended fending off a series of ’A-List’ stars in Kristin Scott-Thomas, Lesley Manville and Celia Imrie; all of whom gave solid performances in rather less solid plays. Still a much-deserved win and one that suggest a bright future is ahead of her (if she can be kept away from the bright lights of the silver screen).
And talking of bright futures – in some of the most heart-warming news of the evening, Sheridan Smith completed her double by walking off with Best Performance in a Supporting Role for her role in Flare Path. This follows her Best Actress win in Legally Blonde last year and marks a triumphant return to the stage and is proof that she is capable of doing serious alongside light and frothy.